Apart from the legendary 19th, the other most talked-about hole for any golf course might be the 13th. Why? It could be because every golfer has, at one point, stood on the 13th tee box and said: “I wish this game could be over right now.”
Or … it could be due to the ongoing lament of five- and six-hour rounds and a growing buzz around the 12-hole golf course as a solution.
In 2015, Canada had 2,346 golf facilities on which 5.7 million golfers played approximately 60 million rounds, parlaying the game into a $14.3 billion industry, according to a Golf Canada report released this summer.
Those are big numbers.
A smaller statistic includes the number of facilities that are nine-hole courses (868). And one of the report’s smallest numbers is this: nationwide, there are nine golf courses of the 12-hole variety.
Joining their ranks in 2017 is Pineridge Golf Course and RV Resort, just west of Edmonton near Seba Beach, which holds the honour of being the first (and only, at least for now) 12-hole golf course in Alberta.
Well, it will be once the final two holes open, expected to happen this year. On a sunny day in July, we played the regular nine plus a “bonus” hole. The remaining two holes are built, but course operators were waiting for the grass to mature. In future, golfers will be able to play nine, 12 or 18.
In 2007, Jack Nicklaus told Golf Digest: “We should consider the possibility of making 12 holes the standard round. … Eventually it would be accepted because it makes sense in people’s lives.”
The concept definitely makes sense at Pineridge.
As a result of this year’s play with the Golfaround League for Women, I’ve become a big fan of the nine-hole round. It’s quick, it’s inexpensive, it’s less tiring, and an evening round in the golden twilight is a perfect end to our long Alberta summer days.
At Pineridge, they’ve incorporated the 40-year-old golf course into a four-season RV resort. The golf course and its 9 Iron Grill and Patio is the hub of social activities. On the weekend we played, the course had hosted a Night Golf event, complete with costumes, drinks, dinner and three hours of golf on lighted fairways.
Even better, the course is serious about bringing in new golfers, with a week-long junior camp in July, a standing junior rate of $10 for nine holes, and free golf for kids on Sundays after 3 p.m.
As for our round? We loved it. The course is plenty challenging, the locals we chatted with were plenty friendly, and the dinner we enjoyed on the pretty patio was plenty delicious.
By the numbers: Par is 35 / 36 for the main nine holes, with yardage ranging from 2,860 at the forwards to 3,122 at the tips. The bonus 10th hole is a par 3 that plays from 110 to 165 yards. The scorecard doesn’t yet provide yardage info for the 11th and 12th holes.
$$: 9-hole rates are exceptionally reasonable — $24.15 (including GST) weekdays, $29.40 on weekends and holidays. 18-hole rates are $36.75 and $42.
Deals: The weekday rate drops to $21 plus taxes on Monday through Thursday. Add a cart for another six bucks. Also, Pineridge has gotten on the golf-and-dine bandwagon with a Twosome Tuesday deal — $80 gets you two green fees and cart after 2 p.m. plus $35 to spend after the round in the clubhouse.
Defining characteristics: Wide fairways, few bunkers, mature trees and greens that were teeny, hard and occasionally elevated. It could get tricky making your ball stick. There were also a number of blind holes with the accompanying horns, bells and mirrors to ensure safety.
Walkability: Lots of rolling hills mean you’ll get your heart-rate up, but it’s a very enjoyable walk.
On-course amenities: Small pro shop, really nice restaurant with a shady patio below and a big sunny patio on the second floor. Food and service were fantastic.
As long as you’ve made the drive: Travelling to Pineridge from Edmonton sends most drivers almost past the doorstep of the fun and quirky Carvel General Store, which is located in the hamlet of Carvel, population 19 (2009 census data). Opened in 2003 by a mother-daughter duo with personality and charm to spare, they took the hamlet’s original general store — built in 1914 — and turned it into a riotous assortment of everything you didn’t know you needed.
This summer, Dan and I have put the drive into Road Wordy, with a series of blog posts focused on golfing in Alberta. Our Drive Time stories will focus on golf gems that are an easy drive or overnight from Edmonton. Our Nine Hole series looks at courses Therese is playing with the Golfaround program for women.